Category Archives: Cooking & Cleaning

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

We have a Kitchen Aid mixer at our house, including the fancy ice cream-making accessory. It should be simple to make a yummy frozen concoction, but I’ve managed to mess up on a different step each time, including my latest attempt at making frozen yogurt. One of these days, Kitchen Aid, I will achieve ice cream success with you! For Plan B, I just put the mixture in a glass dish in the freezer to let it harden. It still tastes good, so I recommend giving this easy recipe a try!

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
32 oz. full-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup sugar
Toppings

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Directions

Blend cream, yogurt, vanilla and sugar until completely combined. Pour mixture into dish and freeze for about two hours. OR, unlike me, you can correctly follow the instructions for your ice cream maker and have it ready sooner! 🙂
Top with berries or peanut butter cups or whatever sounds good!

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Adapted from:
http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/simple-vanilla-frozen-yogurt/

Granola Bars

These granola bars are so yummy! I’ve made them several times. To make mine, I used almonds, cashews, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins. I’m sure they’d be good with a variety of other things – experiment!

granola bars 1

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups mixed nuts and seeds
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup coconut or other oil
1/3 cup peanut/nut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

Place nuts and seeds in food processor, pulsing until roughly chopped. In large bowl, combine nuts and seeds, coconut, dried fruit and chocolate chips.

granola bars 2

In a large saucepan, warm and mix remaining ingredients. Turn off heat and pour nut mixture into saucepan and combine. Pour mixture into an 8 X 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press firmly and evenly into pan. Freeze for two hours. Store in the fridge or freezer.

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*adapted from http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/

Lemon Curd

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This lemon curd recipe is wonderful. It’s incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way. Try it with berries and whipped cream, in crepes, or simply by the spoonful!

Ingredients
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup low-carb sweetener or sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled for five minutes

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Directions
In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and sweetener until mixture is very smooth.
Add melted butter and whisk until smooth.
Using a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, cook mixture over very low heat, stirring regularly, until mixture thickens – about 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings

Pea Soup with Bacon

In the past, I never thought pea soup sounded appetizing. But maybe after making smoothies with spinach, kale and avocado for several years now, my ability to enjoy various green purees has grown. I saw a recipe on the Food Network recently for pea soup. It looked good and easy to make, and I do like peas, so I thought I’d give this slightly altered version a shot!

pea soup ingred

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 pounds frozen peas
Several strips of bacon
Oil or butter
Salt and pepper

Instructions
In a stock pot, heat oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed. Alternatively, use a blender to puree the soup 1 cup at a time. Season to taste.

Chop cooked bacon and sprinkle on soup.

pea soup

Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/spanish-pea-soup-with-crispy-ham-recipe.html

Honey French Dressing

honey french dressing
photo: thesaucysoutherner.com

I love this kind of dressing. Sometimes I buy a pre-made salad at one of the local grocery stores, and am always disappointed when they don’t have one with the Honey French dressing. To solve this problem, I realized I should just make my own. I tried not to get my hopes up, thinking it might not taste as good. No worries there! I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I CAN take credit for passing it along!

Ingredients

1/3 to 1/2 cup raw honey
1 Tbsp tomato paste or 1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp natural salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery seed
3/4 cup oil

Instructions

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients EXCEPT oil. While machine is on low, slowly add oil in a steady stream to help it mix properly. Store in fridge.

*recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com

Vegetable Salad

vegetable salad

Looking for a yummy way to eat more vegetables? I always am. Here’s a vegetable salad recipe I got from a friend (thanks, Ruth!) that you can try:

12 oz package broccoli, cauliflower & carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

pizza

There’s a pizza place in town that makes an outstanding BBQ chicken pizza. I wanted to try making my own version at home, so here it is!

Ingredients:

one pizza crust
about 2/3 cup barbecue sauce
2/3 cup cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter/oil
2/3 cup pineapple tidbits
about 2 Tbsp sliced jalapenos
1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400. Saute red onion in butter/oil until translucent. Spread barbecue sauce onto crust. Top with cooked chicken, red onion, pineapple, jalapenos and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted.

Bon appétit!

Homemade Pumpkin Purée

Pumpkin is one of the reasons I love fall! Decorating with pumpkins, ordering hot drinks flavored with pumpkin, and of course eating baked goods made with pumpkin. If this also describes you, I encourage you to try making homemade pumpkin purĂ©e. It’s so easy, so good for you, and makes you feel so accomplished! My sister made pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie from pumpkins she roasted, and they tasted great. So I found myself inspired. 🙂

I bought two small pumpkins from the grocery store. Aren’t they too cute? I almost feel bad cutting them up. But I will!

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First, cut the top and the bottom off each pumpkin. And preheat the oven to 325.

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Then, cut each pumpkin in half. Next, use a large metal spoon to scoop out the insides. I highly recommend saving them so you can roast the pumpkin seeds!

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Place pumpkin halves in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet. My favorite little helper is pretending she is a pumpkin needing roasted. 🙂

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Bake for about 50 minutes or until the skin can be easily pierced with a fork. They’ll look like this:

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Next, use a spoon to scrape out the flesh or a knife to peel off the skin. I chose the spoon technique myself. Place the peeled pumpkin in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (using a blender may require adding a little water).

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Mine turned out like purée, but sometimes roasted pumpkins can come out really watery. If so, there are two options: place pumpkin purée in a cheesecloth over a bowl and let the water drain out, or spread pumpkin purée in a large baking dish and place in oven at a low temperature for a while to let the water evaporate.

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All right, time to get baking!

Apple Cider Vinegar

With as often as I use it, I figured I’d share with you some of the many ways apple cider vinegar (ACV for short) can be used. This all-natural product is great for our health and great to use in our homes. When purchasing it, be sure to use an organic brand that says it includes the ‘mother’, strand-like chains of protein enzymes and good bacteria that collect at the bottom of the bottle. Bragg’s is a popular brand.

ACV

Here are just a few ways to use it:

All-purpose cleaner – in spray bottle, mix equal parts water and ACV w/ a few drops of essential oils
Facial toner – mix one part ACV w/ two parts water and a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil
Upset stomach – take one Tbsp ACV followed by or diluted in a glass of water
Fruit fly trap – place a glass with 1/4 cup ACV and 1/4 tsp dish soap on counter
Sunburn relief – splash some ACV on a wet washcloth and apply to skin
Healthy hair – restore pH balance of scalp by making a leave-in conditioning spray of one part ACV and four parts spring or distilled water (don’t worry, the vinegar smell goes away as hair dries!)
Salad dressing – mix 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup ACV, 2 Tbsp honey, and salt and pepper to taste – mustard, lemon juice and garlic also make great additions!
Flea control – rub some into pet’s fur and/or add a few drops to pet’s water dish
Weight loss/lower blood sugar levels – taking ACV is shown to help with both of these

Butternut Squash Soup

September is one of my favorite months – clear skies, cool breezes, leaves starting to turn. Seems like a great time to make soup! Plus, soups are a great way to incorporate a variety of vegetables into your diet. Here’s a very easy recipe to try:

Ingredients

2 20-ounce packages (2-1/2 pounds) pre-cut butternut squash (if using fresh squash, you’ll need one large squash or 7-8 cups cubed)
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons raw honey or sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

squash soup 1

Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients except for the heavy cream in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 35 minutes.

squash soup 2

Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until silky smooth. (Alternatively, cool the soup slightly, then purée in a blender in batches, making sure to leave the hole in the lid open to allow the steam to escape.) Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning (depending on the sweetness of the vegetables, you may need up to a tablespoon more honey/sugar).

Enjoy!

squash soup 3

I found this recipe at: http://www.onceuponachef.com/2013/10/easy-butternut-squash-soup.html